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Archive for May, 2013

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Pinch hitter Daniel Descalso hit a two-run single with the bases loaded to snap an eighth-inning tie and the St. Louis Cardinals rallied past the Kansas City Royals with a 5-3 victory on Wednesday night.

Luis Mendoza got his first career hit and RBI and held the Cardinals to a run in 5 2-3 innings before the bullpen failed for the Royals, who have lost a season-worst eight in a row. They dropped the first two games of the interleague series by a combined 10-4 score and have totaled 11 runs the last six games.

Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran homered for the Cardinals, who have won seven of eight and lead the majors with a 35-17 record. Randy Choate (1-0) got the last out in the eighth and Edward Mujica finished for his 17th save in 17 chances.


R.B. FALLSTROM,AP Sports Writer
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

CHICAGO (AP) — A potential tiebreaking goal by the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of their second-round series against the Detroit Red Wings has been waved off after referee Stephen Walkom blew the play dead because of a penalty call behind the play.

While Walkom was waving his arms to stop play, Niklas Hjalmarsson fired in a slap shot with 1:47 left in regulation Wednesday night.

Chicago forward Brandon Saad and Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey got tied up in front of the Red Wings bench, and they were given minor penalties.

The sellout crowd of 22,103 booed loudly when the goal was disallowed. The teams headed to overtime tied 1-1.

Walkom is in his second stint as an on-ice NHL referee after he served as the NHL’s director of officiating from 2005-09.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.




KANSAS CITY, MO – The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they will promote rookie right-handed pitcher Michael Wacha from Memphis (AAA) to start Thursday night’s (May 30) game at Busch Stadium against the Kansas City Royals.  The team will announce a corresponding player move prior to Wacha’s start.

Wacha, 21, was the Cardinals #1 draft selection (19th player overall) last June out of Texas A & M University.  The 6-6, 210-pound Texarkana, Texas native is currently 4-0 with a Pacific Coast League-leading 2.05 ERA in nine starts for the Memphis Redbirds.  Wacha has allowed just 35 hits in his 52.0 innings pitched this season for a .187 opponent’s batting average.

Wacha appeared at three levels (Gulf Coast League, Florida State League and Texas League) last season following his signing and posted a 0.86 ERA in 11 appearances (two starts) while striking out 40 batters in 21.0 innings pitched with only four walks.  He also appeared in two games during the Texas League playoffs for Springfield (AA).

Wacha will become the eighth rookie pitcher to appear on the Cardinals roster this season and the 10th pitcher age 25 or younger to do so.  The Cardinals have received a Major League-leading 12 wins from rookie pitchers this season.

DESTIN, Fla. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference’s basketball tournament is ready to settle down.

And Nashville, Tenn., could be home.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive says league athletic directors voted unanimously to “authorize the conference to explore a primary site for the men’s basketball tournament.” Slive stopped short of saying “permanent,” but hinted that could change.

Slive says, “We’ve been very successful with our permanent site in football in Atlanta. We’ve been very successful in our permanent site in Hoover (Ala.) in terms of baseball, so the ADs felt it was time for us to explore the possibility of a primary site for the men’s basketball tournament.”

The basketball tournament has been played in Tampa, Fla., Nashville, Atlanta and New Orleans over the last five years. It is scheduled for Nashville in 2015, 2016 and 2019. Two years, 2017 and 2018, have not been finalized.

DETROIT (AP) — Authorities say a former college football quarterback who went missing over the weekend has been found dead in Michigan.

Lake County Undersheriff Dennis Robinson says Cullen Finnerty’s body was found Tuesday night. Robinson says the cause of death isn’t yet known, but authorities don’t suspect foul play.

Finnerty led Grand Valley State University to three Division II national titles and more than 50 wins during his four years as a starter in Allendale, Mich., last decade.

Authorities have said family members had expressed concern that the 30-year-old may have suffered “a mental episode” before going missing Sunday while fishing along the Baldwin River.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — It looks like the latest embarrassing episode in the athletic department will not cost the Rutgers University president his job.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has given President Robert Barchi a public show of support, saying he has “absolute confidence” in the president who was brought in last year to turn the state’s flagship public university into a medical sciences powerhouse.

Some lawmakers are questioning Barchi’s fitness for the job after allegations have surfaced that incoming athletic director Julie Hermann verbally abused players when she was a volleyball coach at Tennessee in the 1990s.

It’s a touchy subject at Rutgers, where a basketball coach was fired and the previous athletic director resigned last month after a video was made public showing the coach yelling gay slurs and kicking players.

GEOFF MULVIHILL,Associated Press
KATIE ZEZIMA,Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Williams scored two goals in the second period, and the Los Angeles Kingsadvanced to the Western Conference finals with a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 on Tuesday night.

Jonathan Quick made 25 saves as the defending Stanley Cup champions finished off this agonizingly even series with their 14th consecutive home victory over the past two months, including seven straight in the postseason.

The home team won all seven games in this thrilling all-California series, and the fifth-seeded Kings barely rode their home-ice advantage to victory in their first potential elimination game in the last two years.

Antti Niemi stopped 16 shots, and Dan Boyle scored early in the third period for the Sharks, who fell just short of their third trip to the conference finals in four years.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Dave Van Horn takes the time to remind his players every few weeks about just how good they have it.

It’s not that the Arkansas coach revels in telling today’s youth just how difficult the older generations had it; he’s simply in awe of how far college baseball has come during his 25-year coaching career.

Armed with new stadiums, packed houses and a growing fan base, college baseball has seen a surge in interest over the last decade. The result has been better travel, equipment, facilities and exposure for a sport once relegated to a spring-time afterthought.

Spring might still be about college football in many parts of the country, but the gap between the gridiron’s offseason and the diamond is closing in others.

“They know (how good they have it),” Van Horn said. “We are all lucky to have what we have, and it didn’t always used to be this way.”

The latest sign of the burgeoning interest in the college game will happen this weekend, when for the first time all 16 of the NCAA tournament regionals will be televised by ESPN. The network showed just six of the regional sites last season, four the year before, but it’s committed to showing every pitch from every game this season on its various outlets.

“That shows you our investment in college baseball and how we feel about it,” said Mike Moore, a senior coordinator producer at ESPN. “They’ve got something going.”

ESPN has a long-standing history with college baseball, with this year marking the 34th straight season the network has shown the College World Series. However, showing regular season and conference tournament games only became more of an option as the network looked to fill programming voids created by the lost 2004-05 NHL season, said programming and acquisitions director Brent Colborne.

The end result was that nearly 1.4 million viewers on average tuned in to watch College World Series games on ESPN last year, with a peak of more than 1.9 million in 2009. The steady viewership was enough after last season for the network to look into showing all of the regionals — which it will do when the tournament begins across the country on Friday.

“We’ve never done it before, so we don’t know what the results will be, but we do know there’s an audience out there,” Colborne said. “There’s obviously a very, very passionate audience that really enjoyscollege baseball.”

Larry Templeton, the former Mississippi State athletic director who now serves as a consultant for the Southeastern Conference, credited ESPN taking college baseball “to another level.” It’s a surge he hopes to improve upon when the SEC Network is unveiled sometime next year.

Templeton, who also served as the chair of the NCAA tournament selection committee from 2007-09, also credited the 20-second pitch clock for speeding up games and better facilities as reasons for turning the game into a fan-interest sport.

As a result, Templeton believes more top players today are choosing to play college baseball rather than signing with major league teams out of high school and spending years in the minor leagues.

“There are some quality student-athletes playing baseball at the collegiate level now,” Templeton said.

One example of Templeton’s belief is Arkansas infielder Dominic Ficociello, who was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft by Detroit before choosing to attend college rather than sign with the Tigers. Ficociello said he set his bonus demand incredibly high before the draft — $1 million take-home pay after taxes — because he wanted to experience the college environment.

“I knew that was the price that teams would have to pay to get me away from all this,” Ficociello said. “I knew this was going to be a pretty crazy thing, and it was going to be awesome and nothing I had ever experienced before.”

The decision to attend college has paid off in exactly the kind of experiences Ficociello had hoped for, including playing in front of thousands of fans per game with the Razorbacks and a trip to the College World Series last year.

Arkansas’ Baum Stadium, as well as the interest across the SEC, also played significant roles in Ficociello’s decision to bypass the professional ranks. The facility opened in 1996, has been expanded several times since, and an average of 8,335 fans paid to see the Razorbacks play this season.

That’s a far cry from the average of 1,399 fans who attended Arkansas games in 2002 — the season before Van Horn was hired away from Nebraska.

When Van Horn was hired, he struggled at first with the long road trips across the SEC, all of which were taken by bus. After a few years, and as attendance began to rise, Van Horn approached then-Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles about the travel — focusing on the competitive disadvantage to driving as well as the classroom time players were missing.

The last bullet point hit home with Broyles, and since the Razorbacks have flown to most of their away games, including charter flights when possible.

Van Horn said the increased television exposure and attendance played a role in the better travel arrangements, and he said the quality of the product has led to the overall growth in the game.

It’s a modern success story that he hopes doesn’t end any time soon.

“It all helps, with travel, coaches’ pay, the whole budget,” Van Horn said. “If we were getting 2,000 a game, things might be different. That’s just the way it is now, and it’s nice.”


(West Plains)  A favorite annual fundraising event for the West Plains Cross Country team will be taking place next week.

Assistant track and field coach Alicia Gunter talks about the annual ‘Dog Jog’.


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Gunter says runners will be getting an early start.


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Three members of the West Plains High School Varsity Baseball team have earned All District Honors.


Congratulations to:


Trey Turner – Second Team All District

Taylor Gill, Infielder – Second Team All District

Matt Wernsing, Pitcher – Second Team All District


Good luck in your future games!